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The Parent-Child Relationship: Can it justify becoming a parent?

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I recently became a father. Well, when I say recently, I mean just over a year ago (October 2019). Being a parent raises a number of practical and philosophical questions. Should you have children in the first place? How do you care for a newborn? How do you give your child the best start in life? Is it wrong to give your child special treatment over other children/people? Does being a parent give meaning to life that was previously absent? Ordinarily, I am inclined to prolonged and frequent spells of philosophical self-reflection. The examined life and all that. One thing that has surprised me about becoming a parent is how little of this I have done on the subject of parenting itself. Perhaps this is not unusual. Perhaps the first year of parenting tends to be dominated by the practicalities of caring for a child and not its philosophical import. But now that I have settled into a somewhat predictable routine with my daughter (fingers-crossed!), I have a bit more time for my usual ruminations. And there is plenty to ruminate on. In this article, I will focus on one issue in particular: the nature and value of the parent-child relationship. We have many relationships in our lives. They are often a source of value. Think about your friends and intimate partners, for example. Few of us would do without them. The parent-child relationship is both different from and similar to these other kinds of relationships. What I want to consider are its structural features and how these affect both the value of the relationship as a whole. I’ll be folding some of my own thoughts, from my first year-and-a-bit of parenting, into the discussion as I go along. One thing I won’t be focusing on in this article, though it does linger in the background to some extent, is the ethics of having children. Some philosophers are anti-natalists. They think it is wrong to have children. Most people are pro-natalist. They think it is desirable, perhaps even obligatory to have children. I’ve. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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